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Hotel partner Genesis Hospitality ‘excited’ to be part of the KED

Still ‘very early’ in the process, Genesis Hospitality is firming up details, such as brand, groundbreaking date, the number of rooms and convention space, says company executive president Kevin Swark
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A hotel operator has been secured for the The Kingsway Entertainment District. Developer Dario Zulich made the announcement Dec. 9 that Genesis Hospitality, based out of Brandon, Man., will be the operator.

The Kingsway Entertainment District is “a great fit” for Genesis Hospitality, company executive president Kevin Swark said, adding that their hope is to be part of the 2024 grand opening. 

“You don’t get too many opportunities to connect to a casino and a hockey arena, so those are two huge pluses that just don’t happen very often,” he told Sudbury.com. 

“We’re excited to be announced and to be a partner with (developer) Dario (Zulich), and it’s a good market so we’re excited to get there.”

The question of when a hotel partner would be named had been a topic of conversation for some time, with Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc stating during a Nov. 3 special city council meeting that a partner was “fully committed to moving forward,” but declined to name said partner. 

City administration and his colleagues on city council indicated at the time that they were not aware of Leduc’s claim. 

Today, Leduc said that the hotel announcement was no big surprise to him. 

“I’m just happy that it’s finally being announced and I’m hoping that Sudbury will appreciate the hotel coming to Sudbury and the jobs it’s going to create that are well-needed here in Sudbury,” he said, crediting Genesis with being a “well-established” organization with multiple similar sites.

“This is going to be the largest hotel in Sudbury that’s going to complement a lot of things here in Sudbury and attract a lot of tourists throughout northeastern Ontario.”

Despite Leduc’s statement on the hotel would be the largest in Sudbury, the number of rooms has not yet been determined, Swark clarified, adding that much is still up in the air as it relates to this project, which is still “all a work in progress.”

Its convention space capacity, brand and groundbreaking date have all yet to be decided, though he clarified when asked about the city’s projected 2024 grand opening, “We would hope to be all in that same timeframe.”

The brand will help determine how many rooms will be included in the hotel, with some requiring minimums and/or maximums, and he said they’re still studying the marketplace to “see what the occupancy trends are as it comes out of COVID.”

Swark describes Genesis Hospitality as a “family-owned company” based in Brandon, Man., that owns and operates 12 hotels in three provinces, including four in Manitoba, three in Alberta and five in Ontario.

These sites run the gamut from the 88-room Comfort Inn & Suites in Red Deer. Alta., to the 265-room Victoria Inn Hotel & Convention centre in Winnipeg, which also has 30,000 square feet of convention space and a family water park. 

“It’s a great fit for us,” Swark said of the KED, adding that they’ve already been in Ontario for several years, “so it’s a great fit for us to be in the North.”

The existing Genesis Hospitality locations in Ontario include: 

  • Victoria Inn Hotel & Convention Centre in Thunder Bay, which has 182 guest rooms and 15,000 square feet of convention space.
  • Courtyard by Marriott in Mississauga, which has 94 guest rooms. 
  • Courtyard by Marriott in Hamilton, which has 136 guest rooms. 
  • Residence Inn by Marriott in Mississauga, which has 133 extended-stay suites
  • Residence Inn by Marriott in Vaughan, which has 132 extended-stay suites

Today’s announcement of a hotel partner comes after the Nov. 29 announcement that Gateway Casinos has opted to delay site preparation work at The Kingsway location expected to begin that day.

In emailed correspondence with the city leaked to Sudbury.com, Gateway Casinos executive vice president development and construction Jagtar Nijjar noted that uncertainty around the project made it “not commercially reasonable” for them to provide additional significant funding to the next phase of the project until certain challenges are resolved. 

These challenges include ongoing legal action by the Minnow Lake Restoration Group and an Ontario Provincial Police investigation of Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier’s claim that he was offered a bribe to select the KED site. 

Although Gateway has put things on pause, Swark said that he’s confident they’ll move forward. 

“That’s our indication — that they’ll keep going.”

In his correspondence with the city last month, Nijjar clarified that Gateway remained “supportive of the KED project and continue to invest significant time and resources into the project as we believe it is the best location for a premier gaming and entertainment facility in Sudbury.”

With today’s step forward following Gateway’s recent step back, Leduc said that the commitment from Genesis “speaks volumes.”

“There is a solid commitment there on moving forward, so all three partners are in this together and we look forward to moving forward together.”

It remains to be seen when site preparation work will commence.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.